The program has been published for the second Tarnanthi Festival in Adelaide. At the Art Gallery where Director and curator Nici Cumpston holds sway, no fewer than 189 artists are listed as showing their wares “ 58 involved in the APY Lands collaborative Kulata Tjuta project based upon the ceremonial significance of spears (kulata) for the men, but now adding a female element in the form of floating piti, wooden bowls crafted by the women. Another group of 16 more urban artists have worked with the Cicada Press at UNSW to offer their rather different take on Indigenous politics. As far as I can see, there are no footy players from the Central Deserts this year after a superfluity in 2015!
While the Cicada Press works are exclusively urban, an interesting trend is apparent outside the AGSA in the City-Wide Festival “ which is mostly of shorter duration than at the Art Gallery. Of the 24 shows listed, six can be categorised as a mix of urban and remote artists, working in some way collaboratively. For instance the Hahndorf Academy’s Tjukurpa Stories celebrates the tradition of story-telling in both the Deserts and around SA’s Victor Harbour. And the busy Sydneysider, Nicole Monks turns up curating an exhibition of Elcho Island weaving at the Jam Factory and participating in Next Matriarch, a ‘conversation’ between seven First Nations women about the resilience of the sisterhood in both towns and the bush. She then performs solo at the Art Gallery.
Adelaide’s Jam Factory stands out in the materials area “ showing not only the Elcho weaving but fashion created by designer Grace Lillian Lee from designs by Mornington Island artists; and, of course, the ceramics for which it’s most associated. Peggy and daughter Jan Griffiths from Waringarri Arts in Kununurra have done a ceramic residency; then, for the dedicated, there’s a really important survey of remote Indigenous pottery out in the Barossa at Seppeltsfield. This year, pots R definitely Us as Pepai Jangala Carroll gets not one but two outings for his ceramic work “ at Beulah Park and in company with fellow Ernabella artist, Derek Jungarrayi Thompson in the Art Gallery itself.
There, as at the the first Tarnanthi iteration when Spinifex collaboratives dominated the Gallery, much attention will be focused on two substantial, gender-specific collaborative paintings from APY artists. The men’s tackles Kulata Tjuta matters again, while the women’s is surprisingly not hanging in the National Museum’s Songlines exhibition in Canberra as it tells the Kungkarangkalpa/Seven Sisters story so dramatically. Both featured in Hazelhurst Gallery’s fabulous APY show last year “ but Adelaide deserves to marvel over them too.
Apart from the APY Lands, pride of place in Cumpston’s selection will probably go to the dynamic Buku Larrnggay Mulka centre in NE Arnhemland. For Nonggirnga Marawili has been commissioned to create a suite of barks (after her sensational move to acrylics in this year’s Telstra Prize in Darwin), and Nawarapu Wunungmurra blends his 3D work in both Mokuy spirit figures and larrakitj poles with Ishmael Marika’s filmed accompaniment. And if you thought Marika was young and hot behind the camera, two even younger and more experimental film-makers from Buku will be in Adelaide too “ Gutingarra Yunupingu and Mundatjngu Munungurr.
Talking of film, Iwantja Arts lively imagination now extends to making spaghetti westerns, with associated bronze sculptures. And Reko Rennie’s golden Rolls Royce-goes-bush film comes in from the Quinquennial at the National Gallery. The all-too-brief flowering of Jirrawun Arts in the East Kimberley between 1998 and 2010 is seen through the work of Rammey Ramsey, the late Freddie Timms, Phyllis Thomas and Goody Barrett. The ghost net artists of Erub in the Torres Strait come comparatively ‘home’ from Monaco, Geneva, Paris and the UN in New York with their marine sculptures. And the divisive legacy of Albert Namatjira is reflected in watercolours made by his Ntjarra descendants in response to photographs taken by his tutor/colleague Rex Batterbee in the 1930s. Finally, photos by Ricky Maynard of Aboriginal men on Cape Barren and Flinders Islands are poignantly entitled, ‘Saddened were the Hearts of Many Men‘.
Outside the AGSA again, Ngaanyatjarra artists are having their moment in the sun “ at both the SA Museum and at praxisARTSPACE. SAM aims to reveal where the art arises from in a show called Ngurra “ Home. While at Praxis, an interesting pairing of Dallas Gold from Raft Gallery and Kade McDonald from Hanging Valley curate ‘NG Salon’, weaving together the contemporary art with the Warburton historical collection, Tjanpi weaving and the naÃ¯ve Warakurna history paintings. In the Botanic Gardens, the strange world of Yirrkala string games “ with more variations than anywhere else in the world “ is challenged by Bul’abula’s finger maestros, and contextualised by historical examples from the Museum.
What riches. Don’t miss the almost indigestible opening weekend – 13th to 15th October. Thanks to BHP and the State government for coming back to the Tarnanthi party.
Artist: Pepai Jangala Carroll, Derek Jungarrayi Thompson, Nicole Monks, Nonggirnga Marawili, Gutingarra Yunupingu, Mundatjngu Munungurr, Nawarapu Wunungmurra, Ishmael Marika, Reko Rennie, Rammey Ramsey, Freddie Timms, Phyllis Thomas, Goody Barrett, Albert Namatjira, Ricky Maynard,
Gallery: Art Gallery of South Australia ,